Tips from Matt Hodson of John Crawford Marine and the Boating Industry Association
Set a realistic budget
The very first tip would be to set yourself a realistic and affordable budget. Then you also need to take into account running costs. Things like annual servicing, registration, insurance, and the like. As your children grow, sometimes your safety gear will too.
Factor those things into your family budget to make sure you can afford the boat as well as the upkeep.
Title search (PPSR)
Often people will buy an older boat and repower that boat with a new motor which may be financed. They then go to sell it but unless you do a title search on the boat, the trailer and the motor, you may not know that the person’s selling something with an encumbrance.
Avoid this by doing a title search for around $2. You get the identifier of the hull (HIN number), the identifier of the motor (serial number), and the identifier of the trailer (VIN number), type that into the system and it’ll bring up any relevant history including any money that may still be owing on it.
Have a checklist
Put emotion aside and if you’re looking at a few boats, have a checklist of all your non-negotiables. It’ll help to keep you focused and logical should emotion creep in after all.
Pumps, seals and plastics
These are the things that deteriorate with weathering. Check the condition of the covers, the condition of the clears, sit in the steering position and rock the driver
and passenger seats. Is there movement? Are things worn out? You don’t need to be an expert to see these kinds of components. When you’re inside the boat, turn things on and off (with permission from the seller of course).
Service history check/motor test
In your car, you can put your books into a glove box, close the four doors and the books never get wet. There’s no glove box in a boat so books and manuals are unfortunately pretty loose in the boating world.
With a dealer used boat, they will make sure the service history is up to date, but if you’re buying privately, the new motors have a computer in them with that information available so we highly recommend taking the boat to a dealer or the manufacturer to have a test done.
In the boating world, you can’t get out and walk home if you break down so it’s really important to get your boat checked before purchase with a professional.
They can check the motor, check the trailer, the tyres, wheel bearings, and brakes all meet standard and are operational for purpose.
You can book the boat into your local workshop, or a dealer. In fact, some (like John Crawford Marine) will even come out and do the inspection for you on-site.
John Crawford Marine
1029 Manly Road, Tingalpa